Demand for dog racing is growing at pace

editorial image

Towcester Racecourse chief executive Kevin Ackerman this week paused for breath after a frenetic opening six-week period following the launch of the new greyhound track in December.

Yet the message to resonate loud and clear from Towcester is that the honeymoon period has been a successful one, with trainers and punters alike keen to sample the fresh facilities on offer.

Towcester has responded to demand from greyhound trainers by putting on extra fixtures on a Thursday night in January, although this will not be the case on January 29 when there is a National Hunt card.

Ackerman said: “The hospitality bookings are going well on Friday and Saturday nights although we are not currently offering hospitality on Thursdays, although the bars are open. We intend to make a decision shortly about extra fixtures beyond January.”

He added: “We have had great support from trainers and wanted to give them additional opportunities to race their greyhounds.

“The staff and everyone involved with the racecourse have been excellent in their support. There is an understanding we are trying to secure the future prosperity of the racecourse. We have created 80 new jobs and many of these are local people on the catering side.”

WIMBLEDON Greyhound Derby winning trainer Bruno Berwick has finally been able to officially test the water at his new local track... Towcester.

Berwick’s small county base was catapulted to national stardom when Salad Dodger landed the £200,000 showpiece in May and this year’s contest is once again on his agenda.

Salad Dodger, who has not raced since last June as a result of injury, was due at Towcester yesterday for a hand slip start but Berwick was able to have his first proper runner at the track on Saturday when Harrys Gamble was third to Forest Alfonso in the 9.16 contest over 480m, the Matt Chapman yeeehaaa! Stakes. Only two of 12 favourites won on Saturday.

Thursday January 29 sees the return of National Hunt jump racing action to Towcester when the card gets underway at 1.50pm.

TOWCESTER’S pioneering greyhound circuit has also emerged as favourite to stage a future big money maxi-marathon invitation after a challenge was set down by Howard Berlin, the part owner of Boxing Day marathon winner Burgess Borna, to the owners of marathon rivals Bubbly Time and Supreme Rossie.

Berlin is searching for a sponsor for the three-dog challenge and Towcester’s greyhound racing manager said: “We’ve registered the maxi-marathon distance of 1,081 metres and would certainly be keen to stage something like this. Matches and challenges, if staged for the right reasons and competitive, can be terrific for racegoers and bookmakers alike.

CHRISTMAS pantomime season might be drawing towards its natural conclusion but county trainer Ben Case could yet be in a position to supply a topical tip at Ascot on Saturday in the EBF Stallions ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle at 4.05pm.

Case, who saddled a winner and two seconds from his three runners last Saturday, intends to run Peterpanopirateman at the Berkshire track where any cries of ‘look behind you’ at the final flight will hopefully indicate the Wardington Gate Farm base is about to notch an 11th win of the season.

The six-year-old, who was third of 14 in an Irish point to point in November, eventually finished well down the field at Towcester on Boxing Day, but the bare evidence of that statement is misleading.

On the climb for home the Case runner looked like being one of the few runners capable of holding a candle to the Nick Williams-trained Tea For Two, which so impressively won the feature Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last Saturday, only for that effort to take its toll.

Case successfully used Towcester’s stiff gradients to help in the preparation of a hurdling success when Vesuvhill took the opener at Warwick last Saturday on his first run in handicap company, and perhaps similar planning can again be executed on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Case has high hopes for last week’s runners-up, Ballagh and Mr Grey, who were placed at Warwick and Wetherby respectively.